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FDA Fast tracks use of UAB tested COVID treatment for severe cases

U.S. regulators will allow emergency use of the first drug that appears to help some coronavirus patients recover faster. A study including researchers at UAB found the drug Remdesivir shortened the time to recovery for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drug also might be reducing deaths, although that's not certain from the partial results revealed so far. COVID-19 patients in Birmingham are helping to pioneer the treatment for the virus. The University of Alabama in Birmingham is participating in an ongoing study of the coronavirus drug. One thousand coronavirus patients worldwide were either given Remdesivir or a placebo. Early reports show people who took the anti-viral drug responded thirty percent better than those who took the placebo. UAB researcher Nathan Erdman says it’s not a homerun, but the results are considered impressive.

“I don’t think it’s a miracle drug, where people take it and are immediately better,” says Dr. Erdman. “So, there many hurdles to come. But, to have actual positive progress this quickly in a global outbreak is certainly encouraging.”

Researchers are comparing Remdesivir to the AIDS drug AZT. By itself, AZT wasn’t an effective treatment for AIDS. But, it did work in combination with other drugs. Drugmaker Gilead Sciences says it will donate its currently available stock of Remdesivir and is ramping up production to make more.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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